Groups Ask House to Reject Cybersecurity Bill that Constitutes Wholesale Attack on FOIA

Almost forty organizations joined in urging the House of Representatives to oppose HR 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, because it constitutes a wholesale attack on public access to information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In the interest of encouraging private companies to share cybersecurity threat information, the bill unwisely and unnecessarily cuts off all public access to cyber threat information before the public and Congress have the chance to understand the types of information that are withheld under the bill. Much of the sensitive information private companies are likely to share with the government is already protected from disclosure under the FOIA. Other information that may be shared could be critical for the public to ensure its safety. The public needs access to some information to be able to assess whether the government is adequately combating cybersecurity threats and, when necessary, hold officials accountable.

Several cybersecurity bills in the House and Senate include FOIA-related provisions that are overbroad and unnecessary. HR 3523 is especially dangerous because of the lack of specificity as to what can be considered "cybersecurity threat information," and is expected to be brought to the House floor for a vote in the near future. One of the more surprising names on the list of more than 100 cosponsors on the measure is Representative Darrell Issa, the Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the co-chair of the Transparency Caucus. We've set up a petition asking Chairman Issa to stand up for public access to information by withdrawing his co-sponsorship. We hope you will join us in urging Chairman Issa to use his Committee's expertise in public access to information to help make sure any FOIA-related provision promotes transparency and public accountability while allowing the government to withhold only that information which truly requires protection.

Participate and learn more about the bill on twitter using #cispa.

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